Valtteri Bottas says his pole position at the Portuguese Grand Prix is a sign of progress he has made with his qualifying performances and comes under the pressure from Red Bull.
Max Verstappen took pole position at the first race in Bahrain and Lewis Hamilton in Imola, with the Red Bull pair second and third in qualifying last time out. But Bottas made it three different polesitters from three races as he beat his teammate in Portimao and says it was important he found improvements after early struggles this season.
“It has definitely put a smile on my face, because in the first two races of the season the qualifying from my side, at least the Q3 session, hasn’t been the strongest point,” Bottas said. “Getting everything out of the tires, getting the tires to work well, it has been a bit of a weakness, but now it felt like things are starting to go in the right direction.
“I’ve been feeling strong all weekend, so I knew it was possible and it definitely makes me really happy to put it together in Q3 and be on pole. As a team, as well, with the pressure, with the battle with Red Bull, it’s good to be ahead.”
The result also comes after Bottas was involved in a controversial crash with George Russell in Imola, but he says he quickly moved on from that incident and focused on things he could control in the weeks between races.
“I didn’t do anything too different from normal in race analysis. After the race as we were still testing — Lewis was on the car on Tuesday, I was on Wednesday, went home on Wednesday night, did my things, had a good weekend. Then I went to the factory preparing for this weekend in the simulator, etc.
“You talk about mentally, I took all the learning points and there were lots of lessons from the last race, as always, it’s how it goes. The rest, I should forget and move completely to the side and moved on. I know that hard work will always pay off and that’s what I’ve been telling my team as well. It’s only Saturday and I always knew it was possible with a good qualifying. We’ll see tomorrow — tomorrow is the day that matters.”